I agree with my friends who say that leaving resolutions for New Years is kind of silly since we should just start them immediately. But New Years is also a great opportunity to reflect back (as are birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc), take stock, and make changes. So here are some random thoughts:
1) In 2009, I’m going to try and make the best out of all that I have and not focus on what I don’t have or lost. I know, I know: this should be something we do everyday. Well, I know I can do much better at this. Also, this is my number 1 because of all that I believe 2009 will bring. I really believe that, on a macro-level, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Whether it’s watching wealth “disappear” in the stock market, jobs lost, promotions not appear, contracts lost, some prices going up, etc — I (unfortunately) believe there will be a lot to bring one down. And, so, I’m resolving to accept that all of this will happen and I’ll celebrate and enjoy the one, two, or three things that are presently good in my life and situation. I’ll let you know how this one goes.
2) The iPhone brings me great joy. I’ve had the iPhone for the past 2 weeks and I love it. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love my iPhone. When I got my first blackberry ~5 years ago, I immediately fell in love with it and was addicted. With the iPhone, I love the full internet, the awesome apps (Pandora rocks!), and have even grown use to the keyboard. Anyway, I bring this up to register the thought that its so worth spending your money on the things that you know make you happy. I’m not a fan of conspicuous consumption (see the point below). At all. But I think 2008 is when it’s finally sinked in that it’s worth it to spend on certain things. I love to travel and these are among my best memories. So, I should spend more money (and time) traveling, etc. Given my love for the Internet and tech gadgets– the iPhone was such an obvious choice. I wish I had gotten it sooner. There are other things I should spend more money without guilt on, but I need to think of them.
3) In 2008 I made some good mental progress. What does that mean? Well, in 2008 I basically lived an ascetic lifestyle. Let me step back to explain this. Growing up I always wanted stuff. And literally since high school I’ve craved the perfect Crate & Barrel/Ikea (at least I never had exotic taste) apartment. So when I moved to Cincinnati I went nuts at Ikea and did my best “Tyler Durden’s alter ego”-impression and lived like my apartment was a catalog. I continued to buy little things here and there striving to have one of those places that would look cool on TV. Before I moved to San Francisco, I sold or donated every single one of those things. This was actually kind of traumatic since it represented years of desired possessions. When I got to SF, it started kind of on a lark. I didn’t want to buy anything inferior to it’s Cincinnati predecessor (like buy a sofa that would stack up poorly to the sofa that I *loved* in Cincy, etc). I guess if I was to psychoanalyze, this would be so I wouldn’t have felt like I made the wrong decision in moving, and had traded down. So, instead, I bought *nothing*. I guess to be precise, I bought tiny things (under $20). I slept on an airbed instead of buying a bed. I didn’t buy furniture. I used the same 8 or so boxes that I shipped the few of my possessions that made the cut (and trip to SF) as my furniture. They became a dresser, bookcase, and drawers for my clothes. Seriously. I’m not sure why, but it was a spark of inspiration. Then I decided that 2008 would be the year that I proved that I didn’t really need (a lot of)money to survive. I’ve never needed much, but this was going to the extreme to free my mind. Anyway, this utter minimalism in consumerism worked. The world didn’t end, my happiness levels didn’t plummet, and I don’t fear not having money/things like I used to. I’ll note that I eased up towards the end of the year (though right around the 12 month mark since this started last October), as on my trip to India I bought a lot of suits & dress clothes, and a (used) car. Now that my experience has come to end, as of a few days ago gone to a..gasp…mattress with springs. I’ll likely make more purchases of furniture, wall art, and other “possessions” but I’m glad I know how little I truly need.
4) I expect big things out of 2009. Since 2004 I’ve thought ridiculous amounts about what I wanted to do with my life, who I wanted to be, why I wasn’t happy (obviously that was while I was brooding), and what I ultimately wanted. Now, 5 years later, I have this growing feeling that the time is right to actualize these thoughts. Thanks to always being pretty financially conservative and having a pretty simple lifestyle, I’ve got a bit of cushion to make some of those “reckless” dreams come true. This year was the first time that I voiced out loud to a few people about pursuing a couple of these. That’s a clear sign that I’m close to not the idea, but trying for the reality. Specifically two passions/dreams immediately come to mind. While, I’m not yet ready to speak about them publicly yet, I think the time is coming soon. Regardless, I’m anticipating that by the end of 2009, I’ll have committed to, or be in the process of making one of these two a reality. Or, I’ll have defined some of my other scattered and nebulous other interests/dreams/passions into something concrete and will pursue them. When I talk to people who might be seeking advice or perspective, I always tell them to follow their passion. To follow their interests. I’ve done this to a certain extent, but in my ultimate analysis, am not doing all that I can. We should all expect big, huge things from ourselves. I shouldn’t make myself an exception. In 2009 I’m going to dedicate some serious time and attention towards thinking about and making dreams come true. If not now, then when?
5) I want to be more thankful. This differs from #1 because it’s the other side of the coin. Yes, being thankful will increase my satisfaction and happiness with all that I have. But what I am referring to specifically is outward thankfulness. When I think back on my life there are so many people and experiences I’m ridiculously grateful for. Since I was (thankfully) raised right, I’ve more or less always been gracious and expressed my thankfulness. But as a general rule, I’ve never explicitly thanked many of the people who have changed my life. I hope to do thank them explicitly for doing so this year. And I intend to thank many people for just being there in my life. As I think back to growing up, P&G, friends, etc there are many of these people that come to mind. I’ll see what I can do.
What are your reflections on 2008 and life in general?